Tiny yellow worms

Hi all,

I'm not a gardener but I'm hoping you all may be able to help me.

I'm a builder and I'm currently working on a job where there has been a leak from a washing machine that saturated the entire floor about 2 years ago. The moisture has slowly disintegrated the area and I'm replacing it.
I'm currently in the stage of ripping up the sub floor. In between the top layer (plywood) and the underlayer (chipboard) there was a lot of mould and, at first what I thought was sawdust... Until I saw the whole floor was moving.

Millions of tiny yellow worms, no more than a millimetre in length. At first I thought woodworm, but I'm pretty sure they couldn't eat chipboard and ply (very high glue content) and there was no sign of any holes.

Im sorry they are too small for a photo, I tried.
Any one know what they might be and if I need to be concerned about them? I'm from london england.

Thanks in advance :)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I don't know but I feel pretty sure that getting rid of the water problem and old materials will eliminate them. I'd probably take an added step -- spraying with pesticide after demolition and before putting new material in. They sound too small for termites.

Yeah I've sprayed the area now and laid down a thin layer of dry plaster to draw any moisture out of the concrete... and everything is out the front of the house

I've borrowed a macro camera today to try and get a photo I hope I can find some (dead or alive). I really want to know what they are.... I've met lots of bugs when demolishing areas, but not these. And I don't think we have termites in london?

I was watching them on a piece of timber for a few minutes. On their own they can't move very fast, but after a while they all clump together into a ball and roll across a surface... Weirdest thing I've seen bugs do

This message was edited May 24, 2012 11:52 PM

This message was edited May 24, 2012 11:55 PM

Minot, ND

I'm intrigued by your description, and hope you can get clear photo - doesn't sound like anything I'm familiar with...

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

"until i saw the whole floor was moving".......i'd have been running for the hills! i can hardly stand to read your description without my skin crawling.....yikes! LOL

but i am intrigued nonetheless.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I had termites come through the drywall and get into a paperback book. That really gave me the creeps, much more so than just termites being in the wall!

well the camera that my mate lent me was rubbish... even with the macro it couldnt focus on them. Ive uploaded the pics anyway, the first is the mould that they were living in (the yellow bits are the worms) and the second is just of 2-3 worms on my tool box clumped together (too small to attempt to separate. I know the images are crap, but you can blame my mate for buying a cheep camera :P

They have been outside in the rubble skip all weekend in the blazing sun and i cant find any... i guess they are all dead now. Which is a shame, i guess ill never know what they were.

Everyone keeps saying termites? Ive watched enough nature documentarys to know these were not termites or termite grubs. no legs or visible mouth parts and if they were grubs... where are the termites that look after them?

What i really dont understand is how they managed to get there? They were between 2 sheets (12mm Ply and 22mm chipboard) that was screwed together.... and they had managed to get into the centre of the 8x4 sheet, i dont even think i could measeure a gap between the sheets with a micrometer

This message was edited May 28, 2012 3:06 AM

Thumbnail by mmch Thumbnail by mmch

@ trackinsand

LOL! As you can see from the blury photos they are hardly very threatening. Had it been millions of spiders i may have treated it with petrol and a match... and then run to the hills :P

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

maybe we can put this one on Unsolved Mysteries! lol

Royal Palm Beach, FL

This is one of the most intriguing posts I've read! I would love for someone to "solve" this mystery as I'm curious also as to what these insects are. "On their own they can't move very fast, but after a while they all clump together into a ball and roll across a surface..." This sounds like something out of a horror movie and makes it that more interesting!

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Yes, horror movie explains it well. It's also the basis for nightmares.

Haha, you guys are funny.

Well I guess this will never be solved, it's a shame as I doubt I'll ever encounter these odd creatures again.
Thinking about it... Even a HD quality photo wouldn't help much as they are literally just a skinny yellow grain of rice... That wiggles?

Well thank you all for your help anyway :)
I will be sure to post up any other strange critters I find lurking in places that I'm demolishing... Hopefully next time I'll be armed with a better camera

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i wonder if they could have been mealworms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mealworm

Maybe very young mealworm... But the pics in wiki show them with segmented bodies, large mouth parts and legs. The ones I saw had none of these things?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I'm surprised we can't even guess at these things! How about some tiny unusual things that eat rotten stuff- springtails, in their larval stage, maybe...

Minot, ND

Two other possibilities, but given the description by mmch, I don't think very likely are booklice (psocids) or the larvae of a very small fungous-feeding fly.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

'larvae of a very small fungous-feeding fly.'' seems similar to the description.

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